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Teller House

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1872, Newton D. Owen. 110 Eureka St.
  • Teller House (Denver Public Library)

President Ulysses S. Grant stepped out of a stagecoach on April 28, 1873, to find the Teller House walk paved with silver bricks. Townsfolk quickly took up the $12,000 silver carpet after the cigar-chomping Civil War hero left. The hotel was named for one of its builders, Henry Moore Teller. As Colorado's most distinguished politician, Teller served the state's first and longest senatorial term and as U.S. secretary of the interior. Teller and his partners spent $107,000 on the site and the four-story, red brick hotel.

Newton D. Owen, a local carpenter-contractor responsible for the Gilpin County High School and St. Paul's Church, built a hotel that looked, as one observer put it, like a New England factory. The pride of the Teller House was not its exterior, or its 150 small, unheated rooms without baths, but its magnificent public spaces. Besides the lobby, with its elegant mineral display cases, the first floor housed a bank, bar, library, post office, and skylit dining room.

Anne Evans bought the deteriorating, largely abandoned hotel in 1933 and began restoration. In 1936 Herndon Davis, a Denver artist, painted a woman's face on the barroom floor, drawing inspiration from Hugh d'Arcy's poem. This barroom is also graced by Apollo, Venus with Apple, Leda and the Swan, and five other murals of life-size Greek goddesses and gods. The murals, found underneath layers of wallpaper during the 1930s restoration, are the work of Charles St. George Stanley, as restored by Paschal Quackenbush, who added two figures. Each mural, patrons report after much study, has a deliberate distortion.

Evans arranged for the Central City Opera Association to operate the hotel as a bar, restaurant, and museum. In 1991 the Teller House underwent a $7.6 million restoration and the installation of 361 one-armed bandits, eighty-two video poker games, and six blackjack tables. A Swiss casino firm assumed a lease to restore and operate the Teller House. Accustomed to rehabilitating European casinos, the Swiss eagerly took on what they described as “the youngest building we've ever restored.”

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel
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Citation

Thomas J. Noel, "Teller House", [Central City, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/CO-01-GL12.

Print Source

Buildings of Colorado, Thomas J. Noel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 194-195.

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